Hearing on school group roadblocks set Tuesday

Friday, July 10, 2009

A public hearing is to be held Tuesday by Lewisburg's City Council on proposed changes to an 11-year-old ordinance that moved youth group fundraising sales and collections from the bypass to the public square.

Some merchants and members of the City Council are suggesting more controls because motorists have been seen avoiding Lewisburg's public square when students are soliciting donations to extracurricular activities.

Beyond protecting commerce, students' safety is another chief reason for new rules, just as it was when the ordinance was adopted.

A teenager was "bumped" in traffic on South Ellington Parkway in 1998 as she collected donations and, while City Manager Eddie Fuller doesn't recall her injury as serious, he says it was an alarming event.

Moving the students' solicitations to Lewisburg's public square resolved another danger that was seen as potentially catastrophic on the bypass, Fuller said.

"If you stop at a green light" on the bypass where donations were collected, he explained, "you're subject to being rear-ended."

However, on the public square there are two stop signs at each corner of the square, the city manager said.

The public hearing on the proposed amendment to the ordinance on these so-called roadblocks is to begin at 5:50 p.m. in City Hall at 131 E. Church St.

Immediately thereafter, or at 6 p.m., whichever comes first, the regularly scheduled City Council meeting is to begin. The proposed ordinance to amend the law on how solicitations may be conducted on the square is one subject of several scheduled votes to be conducted that night. The Council's vote on public square solicitations is to be the second of three. The first was conducted during a special called meeting last month in an effort to get the changes in place before school starts this fall. A third vote could be on Aug. 11.

Several notable changes include: A restriction of the solicitations to twice a year by the same group; A permit is required from the City Police Department; The individual who obtains the permit for the solicitations must be present during the fundraising activity; There can be no more than two people per roadblock or no more than four per corner of the square; And roadblocks are limited to five hours each.